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Materials & Manufacturing (MM) | laser processing (lp)

MISSION:  to maintain Penn State’s preeminence in lasers and materials processing through innovative development and application of advanced laser-based technologies.

Established in 1986 by direction of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Laser Processing Division has become one of the world’s premier laser application laboratories.  The Division is comprised of the Process Technologies Department and the Systems Engineering and Integration Technologies Department.  With a staff of 5 scientists having doctoral degrees, 3 engineers having master degrees, 2 highly trained technicians, and associated graduate and undergraduate students, the Laser Processing Division is the largest applied laser laboratory within the U.S.  The Division maintains a state-of-the-art applications laboratory with broad capabilities for macro and micro processing.

The Division’s research faculty and staff have diverse, interdisciplinary expertise and take a team-based approach to project execution, which allows for efficient development and application of technology.  These broad capabilities within the Division and the employment of this team-based approach enable technologies to be applied en masse to ensure complete and innovative solutions for our clients and sponsors.

ARL Laserprocessing Video

Click on the YouTube Video screen for a playlist and to play selected video presentations.

Divisional PresentationLaser DemoThe Laser Processing Division is involved in all aspects of laser and material processing, which includes development and implementation of laser beam welding, hybrid processes, laser surface modifications, laser-based direct manufacturing and forming, laser micro drilling, cutting, and machining, laser micro deposition, and laser ablation of coatings and bulk material.

Deeply rooted in the industrial application of laser technology, the Laser Processing Division has long recognized the need for industrial training and engineering education concerning lasers and material processing within the U.S.  In addition to participating in teaching, graduate research supervision, and providing facilities for use in degree oriented instruction and research, the Division also carries out its educational mission through organizing national and international workshops, conferences and symposia, as well as providing educational programs for industrial support groups.

faculty InvolvementFaculty within  the Division have also been deeply involved in the development of a University-wide laser processing laboratory, as well as a suite of multi-disciplinary, laser-related elective courses leading to the certificate of specialization in Laser and Materials Processing for use in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

process technologies

Laser-Based ProcessThe Process Technologies Department is primarily responsible for developing laser-based processes for a wide range of applications.  Core competencies within the division include laser processing of materials that entail additive, substractive, and conjunctive technologies.  A multitude of modern engineering and scientific tools are utilized to develop a fundamental understanding of laser materials processing.  Several active research areas include process development, process modeling, laser beam characterization, and additive manufacturing.  By leveraging close collaborations with the Penn State materials and engineering communities, the department is able to bring to bear the vast materials characterization resources on hand at Penn State.

Department personnel have expertise in a range of technology areas, to include materials, welding and joining, deposition, and additive manufacturing and are on the cutting edge of laser processing in the United States and are active in the development of new laser processing technologies and applications.  These areas of expertise allow the department to utilize a range of tools to formulate multi-disciplinary solutions to complex manufacturing and processing problems.  Our strong foundation in materials science also makes us well suited to develop processes applicable to a wide range of materials for applications requiring high strength, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and compatibility with a wide range of dissimilar materials.Laser Cladding

Micro-ProcessingCapabilities in the department can be roughly divided into the macro-processing and micro-processing areas.  In the macro-processing area, there are three major technology thrust areas involving laser-arc hybrid welding, high deposition rate laser cladding, and deep penetration laser welding.  In the micro-processing area, additive manufacturing, micro-machining, and surface texturing are three current thrust areas  Department personnel work closely with the Systems Engineering and Integration department to apply laser technology to repair and manufacturing applications for both Department of Defense and industrial partners.

systems engineering & integration

Custom-designed ComponentsThe System Engineering and Integration Department within the Laser Processing Division is responsible for the operation of the various systems within the processing laboratory.  It also plays a leading role in the design and integration of specialty devices and systems needed for development and transitioning of advanced laser processing technology.  Expertise of individuals within the department includes operation and maintenance of laser systems, design of optical systems, sensors and detectors, automation and robotics technology, system integration, and laser safety.

The System Engineering and Integration Department draws upon a range of engineering talents and experience in the design and implementation of components and systems to enable the development of advanced laser processes.  This broad expertise enables the effective transition of real-world advanced laser processing solutions to industry.  The department has successfully (i) developed and fielded custom designed components and systems, (ii) developed functional specifications for advanced robotics and managed procurements from commercial system integrators, and (iii) transitioned advanced processes to commercial fabricators.  Utilizing its unique capabilities, the System Engineering and Integration Department stands ready to provide optimal solutions for DoD and industry.

laboratory capabilities

Lab CapabilitiesThe Division operates and maintains a state-of-the-art laser processing laboratory fully equipped for micro and macro processing. 

The precision processing and micro machining laboratory houses various systems available for process development and validation for micro machining, micro welding, laser ablation, and micro deposition include:

  • 500 W single mode ytterbium fiber laser (1070 nm)
  • 120 W (avg.) pulsed Nd:YAG (1064 nm) with hard optics
  • 1 J/Pulse Q-Switched Nd:YAG (1064 nm)
  • Nd:YVO4 at 3rd Harmonic (355 nm) with micro scanner
  • Nd:YAG at the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th harmonic (532, 355, or 266 nm)
  • 0.5 J/Pulse Excimer (193-351 nm)
  • Optomec MR7 LENS system capable of 20 mm spot size

The macro processing facility utilizes two laser sources which are delivered to specialized work-centers using fiber beam delivery.  Laser source capabilities includes a 5 kW Nd:YAG having four fiber launch outputs (two of which split output power) and a 12 kW ytterbium fiber laser with two launch ports and fibers.  These lasers service several large work-centers utilizing a customized safety control system offering plug and play capabilities.

companies & organizations

By combining excellent technologists with state-of-the-art facilities, the Laser Processing Division is at the forefront of applied laser technology and can lay claim to many innovative developments within the industry.  The Division has also established a rich history of industry interaction, built upon the ability to provide real-world solutions to complex manufacturing and materials processing problems.  Companies and organizations that have conducted sponsored research or have formally collaborated with the Division are shown below.

  • II-VI Corporation (Saxonburg, PA)     
  • Aero Gear Corporation (Windsor, CT)    
  • Allegheny Power (Greensburg, PA),    
  • Alvord-Polk Corporation (Millersburg, PA)    
  • Alstom Power (Windsor, CT)  
  • American Tool Companies, Inc. (Chicago, IL)    
  • Astech Corporation (Burbank, CA)    
  • Bechtel Bettis Laboratories (Pittsburgh, PA)    
  • Ben Franklin Partnership Program of Pennsylvania    
  • Boeing Rocketdyne (Canoga Park, CA)    
  • Bonney Forge, Inc. (Mt. Union, PA)    
  • BP Solar (Toano, VA)  
  • Caterpillar Corporation (Peoria, IL)    
  • Cincinatti Thermal Spray Corporation (Cincinatti, OH)  
  • Convergent Prima (Sturbridge, MA)    
  • Curtiss-Wright Flow Control (E. Farmingdale, NY) 
  • Crucible Materials Corporation (Pittsburgh, PA)  
  • Dana Corporation (Reading, PA)     

  • Fabricators & Manufacturers Assoc (Rockford, IL)    
  • Huffman Corporation (Clover, SC)  
  • Jurca Optoelektronik Gmbh (Rodau, Germany )    
  • Kennametal, Inc. (Latrobe, PA)    
  • Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (Schenectady, NY)  
  • LASAG Industrial Lasers (Arlington Heights, IL)    
  • Laser Fare (Smithfield, RI)  
  • Laser Institute of America (Orlando, FL)    
  • Laser Mechanisms, Inc. (Southfield, MI)    
  • Lincoln Electric Company (Cleveland, OH)    
  • Metals USA (Waggaman, LA)  
  • Nooter Corporation (Saint Louis, MO)    
  • Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (Pascagoula, MI)    
  • Nuvonyx Inc. (Bridgeton, MO)    
  • PRC Laser (Landing, NJ)    
  • Praxair Surface Technologies (New Castle, PA)  
  • Precitec Corporation (New Hudson, MI)  
  • Pro Act, Ltd. (State College, PA)    
  • Process Equipment Company (Tipp City, OH)    
  • Spawr Industries (Lake Havasu City, AR)   
  • Spirex Corporation (Youngstown, OH)    
  • South Dakota School of Mines & Tech (Rapid City, SD)   
  • Swanson Plating Company, Inc. (Morgantown, WV)   
  • Trumpf Incorporated (Plymouth Township, MI).